The Interior Ministry Initiates Criminal Proceedings Against Bloodhound Gang

August 5, 2013
REUTERS / Amateur video via Reuters TV

In response to the “desecration” of the Russian national flag by the American rock band the Bloodhound Gang during a performance in Ukraine, Russia’s Interior Ministry (MVD) is seeking to file criminal charges and try the band’s bassist under Article 329 of the Russian Criminal Code. However, the band and the member under question are no longer in Russia, forcing authorities to seek for his extradition. But with the denial of Russia’s request for the extradition of William Browder (an American investor and employer of Sergei Magnitsky) by INTERPOL due to the political underpinnings of the case, and Russia’s refusal to extradite Edward Snowden likely means there is little chance for the request to be fulfilled. -Ed.

The Krasnodar regional Department of the Interior Ministry initiated criminal proceedings against Bloodhound Gang, a well-known American rock band, under Article 329 of the Criminal Code (“Outrages upon the National Emblem of the Russian Federation, or the State Flag of the Russian Federation”). Now the band’s bass guitarist Evil Jared Hasselhoff faces up to three years in prison. Under this criminal case he may be charged in absentia and put on the international wanted list.

According to the sources in the Interior Ministry, the criminal case was opened on Monday morning and it has already been approved the Prosecutor General’s Office.

“A criminal proceedings have been initiated under Article 329 of the Criminal Code over an incident that took place during a concert of Bloodhound Gang,” said the source. “The Prosecutor’s Office Krasnodar Regional Department reviewed the facts and upheld this decision.”

As was explained to “Izvestia” by the law enforcement agency, the most likely scenario could be issuing an international arrest warrant for Jared Hasselhoff, if he fails to appear voluntarily to testify. This means that the band will probably never be able to come to Russia.

This high-profile scandal was triggered by a concert by the Bloodhound Gang in Ukraine. During the concert one of the band members insulted the Russian national flag. Video of the incident, that took place last week at a concert of an American punk band Bloodhound Gang in “Ibiza”, a night club in Odessa, caused an uproar, including among Russian law enforcement agencies. Evil Jared Hasselhoff, the 42-year-old bass guitarist took down the Russian tricolor, unbuttoned his jeans and ran it through his crotch, and shouted at the crowd: “Just don’t tell Putin.”

This action caused a major uproar. As the result the band’s performance at KUBANA festival in Blagoveschenskaya township on the Black Sea coast was cancelled.

The police department for the City of Anapa initiated a preliminary inquiry into the the incident, to evaluate the actions by Evil Jared Hasselhoff against Article 329 of the Criminal Code (“Outrages upon the National Emblem of the Russian Federation, or the State Flag of the Russian Federation”). Under this article he could face up to three years in prison. The musician has been questioned by the local police department through a translator, and explained that this was not a political gesture but rather a creative act. After questioning, he was released.

When the Bloodhound Gang musicians were leaving their hotel in Anapa, youth activists pelted their van with eggs and tomatoes. Already in the VIP-zone of the airport the musicians were attacked by a group of unknown masked men who tried to beat them up. Airport security intervened, but the men had a chance to trample on the U.S. flag.

A transport police unit for the Southern Federal District has launched a preliminary inquiry into the attack on the Bloodhound Gang.

The outrageous actions by the Bloodhound Gang musicians against the Russian state flag has put Russian law enforcement officials in a precarious situation. It took them a while to decide whether they could open a criminal case in response to criminal acts committed in a foreign country, and who should investigate.

According to the Criminal Procedure Code of Russia, it is the responsibility of the Interior Ministry to initiate preliminary inquiries under Article 329 of the Criminal Code, to institute criminal proceedings and to investigate such a case. Meanwhile, Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for the Investigative Committee, said that his agency is ready to put itself in charge of investigating the case, if so instructed by the Prosecutor’s Office.

“If the prosecutor’s office orders the Investigative Committee to investigate this cynical crime, we will make every effort to hold accountable and criminally prosecute those who are involved in this crime, from its perpetrators to organizers,” said Vladimir Markin.

On Monday, August 5, the Investigative Committee started a preliminary inquiry.

According to “News” on Sunday, pre-investigation materials from Anapa were transferred to the Research Affairs of the Krasnodar Territory, where police and local prosecutors spent all day trying to determine whether to open a criminal case against the musicians Bloodhound Gang.

It was the Interior Ministry that got the raw end of the deal. According to “Izvestia” on Sunday, preliminary inquiry materials were transferred from Anapa to the Krasnodar Regional Department of the Interior Ministry, where police officers and local prosecutors spend all day trying to determine whether they could initiate criminal proceedings against the Bloodhound Gang musicians.

“The trick is that the offense has been committed in the territory of another state, and the Ukrainian Criminal Code there is no such definition,” admitted the Interior Ministry earlier.

However, there are such legal precedents. In February 2013 the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case under Article 105 of the Criminal Code, “Murder,” related to the death of a nine year old Anton Fomin, who lived in the U.S. city of Dewey. On May 17, 2012 the child died in a fire in his adopted parents home. Altogether the investigators initiated 13 similar criminal cases in connection of endangering life and health of Russian children in the United States.